One spring day in 2008 I was sorting sweetener packets into aluminum caddies when a screeching from behind me grabbed my attention. I spun around in time to watch a fire truck career through the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Andrew Higgins and wipe out a tiki bar on the sidewalk.
Before my brain had time to process the scene, or even wonder what the hell a tiki bar was doing on that particular sidewalk in the first place, a half-dozen black-clad figures with walkie-talkies and serious expressions had descended on the wreckage, and within moments the bar stood once more – until the fire engine barreled through it again.
As it turned out, it was a crew filming 12 Rounds, a low-earning stomp romp featuring pro “wrestling” star John Cena as NOPD Detective Danny Fisher. If the writers had done their job better, perhaps they wouldn’t have made the protagonist a New Orleans cop, unless they gave him the Bad Lieutenant treatment. There was also a curious pattern of characters with names rooted in old-timey professions (Fisher, Carver, Porter), but that’s neither here nor there.
In any case, New Orleans and Louisiana have seen a huge increase in film production over the past decade (New Orleans is the third largest city for production, behind the two obvious contenders, New York City and Los Angeles). For better (True Blood, Treme) or for worse (The Green Lantern, the abysmal retelling of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), we are wedded to the film industry. So this column will, in part, be a diary of the film industry in New Orleans.
This has been a while in coming, but I finally got my brain in gear when, two weeks ago, my boss reminded me that it had been several months since I’d taken over our illustrious website and I had yet to begin a blog. I responded with an impeccably elegant, "I, er, um…shit. Okay, I’ll get on that." And so here we are.
I opened the discussion last week with a Q&A session with local author James Nolan. Local literature and poetry will comprise another part.
The remainder will be divided between endurance sports (bear with me) and whatever else strikes my fancy.
OK. An apologia on the endurance sports angle: I’m one of those Spandex-clad weirdoes that will sometimes sweat in your way while you’re stuck in traffic on Sunday morning because nobody published a race schedule.
Here’s why it’s important:
In the past three years, two new triathlons and another half-marathon have come to town, joining the already impressive selection of shorter races (and, of course, the Mardi Gras Marathon). My schoolgirl-ish giddiness aside, this means two things for New Orleans: commerce and, yes, occasional traffic. (Just try to think of them as really strange parades without floats or beer.) Here in this column I’ll provide you with an early warning for where not to drive, as well as slowly try to recruit you to the dar – er, awesome – side of running really far for no apparent reason.
So let’s get the discussion started. Who have you seen shooting scenes around town? Who are your favorite local authors? Where do you train?